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Bahrain chairman hits out at F1 teams

Bahrain GP chairman Zayed Al Zayani hits out F1 teams over the decision not to run the race in 2011
Zayed Al Zayani, the chairman of the Bahrain Grand Prix, has hit out at F1 teams over the decision not to travel to the Gulf State for a rescheduled race this season as he admitted that it 'wasn't our call' if the race will return to the calendar next year.

The Bahrain race was cancelled following political unrest in the weeks prior to the season-opener, which was then reinstated to the date originally set aside for the Indian Grand Prix – which in-turn was moved to the end of the year with a new December date.

The reaction of the F1 teams to that decision saw Bahrain bosses elect to withdraw the race from the calendar, and Al Zayani admitted the reaction of the teams was particularly disappointing.

"They have been very temperamental," he told the Evening Standard during a visit to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. "I feel disappointed because it cannot go within three months from one end of the spectrum – 'Oh, you are my favourite destination, we love it here, we feel like we are at home in Bahrain' – to the other, 'We don't want to go to Bahrain'. Yes, events have happened in-between, but you can't be so temperamental.

"It was a unanimous vote of all 26 World Council members. [F1 commercial rights-holder] Bernie [Ecclestone] voted for it. On 8 June, I met him here in London. He said, 'There is resistance from the teams, but if you want I'll push for it...we'll get it sorted'. He even gave us the option of holding it on 4 December. This was never about Bernie losing money by not having a race in Bahrain.

"There were a lot of complaints from the teams and sponsors and, at the end of the day, we withdrew. We didn't want to stir up a fight with the teams."

Al Zayani also hit out at Red Bull driver Mark Webber in particular after the Australia was one of the most outspoken critics of the planned decision to put Bahrain back on the schedule.

"He [Webber] talked about human rights and all that," he said. "Doesn't Australia have issues with the Aborigines? I don't see Mark Webber talking about that. Why Mark Webber went against Bahrain I don't know. He's raced in Bahrain many times and he's always loved it. We've never had any criticism in the previous seven grands prix. We've always been getting high marks for our organisation, everyone involved in F1 loves it.

"As Bernie told me, 'If human rights was the criterion for F1 races, we would only have them in Belgium and Switzerland in the future'..."

The race chairman insisted that he was hopeful that Bahrain will feature again on the calendar next year although he admitted that nothing was certain.

"I don't know when the race will be held next year," he said. "It's not our call."

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